June 2016

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June 2016

News From Mark Shanda, USITT President

A Human Relations Contract for Life

Mark Shanda USITT President

Given the current campaign season to which we are being subjected, the topic of leadership style and administrative approach is holding forth in headlines, on news shows, and on the Internet. Among all of the political posturing and bluster, we are challenged to digest all that we are hearing, evaluate what we are taking in, and ultimately will be asked to make the best possible choice among the options on the ballot in November.

While the only Presidential aspirations I have ever had are being fulfilled by my current service to the Institute, experiencing this national conversation forces me to check my own approach to this trusted role.  I consider it a true honor to hold the office of President of USITT, and I feel obligated to our members to serve each and every one to the best of my ability. 

When I first moved into administration, the resources for which I was responsible took a marked shift. As resident technical director I primarily made decisions about and worked with materials: plywood, muslin, glue, steel, Styrofoam and the like.  As a Department Chair and then Dean, managing human resources became my primary obligation. Taped to my desk, beside my computer, I placed a little reminder of how I was committed to work together with the students, staff, and faculty I encountered on a daily basis. This “Human Relations Contract” served then and continues to serve as a guidepost for all my leadership interactions.  The contract states the following terms:

  1. I will pay attention to the wants, desires and ideas of others as well as their developed wisdom, encouraging growth in them as artist and scholars ahead of my own agenda.
  2. I will present reasonable optimism, confident that we have a bright future ahead, built on a strong past.
  3. I endorse open communication, extensive dialogue, and shared advanced planning.
  4. I commit to fairness in individual treatment and in representing the college to others.
  5. I seek truthful exchange, direct response, and timely decision making, even when the truth is difficult to deliver or a decision is necessary but not popular.
  6. I am honest in evaluation of artistic efforts and individual’s contributions.
  7. I will be compassionate when we goof up, drop the ball, make a mistake, take risks and fail, and I promise to learn from our mistakes and not dwell on our faults.
  8. I expect mutual respect and personal accountability, holding myself to the highest standards of practice.
  9. I celebrate diversity in all dimensions and seek ways to be actively inclusive.
  10. I will provide confidentiality when necessary, tempered by an awareness of the three critical “S’s” of dynamic leadership – no secrets, no surprises, and no sabotage.

That list served me well in my ten years of administrative roles at The Ohio State University and continues to guide my daily choices on behalf of USITT.  Not a campaign platform, rather a commitment to each of you.  Thank you for this opportunity.

Mark Shanda

We'd like to hear your comments on this story.
Please e-mail Mark at Shanda.1@osu.edu.